Maharaj said the loan had been applied for around 2001 by the United National Congress government, but when the money became available, the People’s National Movement (PNM) was in power.
The SDMS secretary general yesterday repeated his call for the then education minister, Hazel Manning, or the then Government, to explain where the money went.
The money was intended for the construction of two permanent structures to replace the now ten-year-old temporary ones that have been housing staff and students at Shiva Boys Hindu College and Parvati Girls Hindu College, both in Penal.
“Up to today (Thursday), Hazel Manning cannot explain where the money went; why these schools were not built. When we (SDMS) complained, they said we were anti this one and anti that one. We are pro-education, pro-school. Once we get our schools built and we get our things moving, we are happy. We will do the rest, the community we do the rest,” Maharaj said yesterday.
He was speaking at the official opening of the Shrimati Shanti Maharaj Spring Village Early Childhood Centre. The pre-school, located on the compound of the Spring Village Hindu Primary School in Curepe, was named in honour of Maharaj’s late wife, who had been a very active member of the Maha Sabha for much of her life.
Construction of the pre-school began in January last year and was completed in six months, at a cost of $1 million. The money and much of the expertise needed to build the pre-school, came from Kelvin and Sandra Cheeranjie, the founders of the St Augustine Community College.
However, it took another six months to open the school due to a lack of funding to pay a teacher’s salary and to purchase equipment.
Sat Maharaj compared this “efficient and economical” construction project to the previous Government’s more expensive pre-schools, which cost on average $5 to $6 million each. He also criticised the Manning administration for what he said was its inability to provide the students of “Shiva Boys and Parvati Girls with proper schools on 20 acres of State land in Penal, where they would share a common playground, but have separate entrances.”
St Augustine MP and Legal Affairs Minister, Prakash Ramadhar, who also attended yesterday’s function, questioned the multi-million dollar Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) centres.
“Why couldn’t they have been built for far less? If one school could be built for $1 million why did others cost $6 million? I would like to say that could be corruption.”
Ramadhar also spoke of the People’s Partnership Govern-ment’s goal to help citizens become self-reliant.
“When you do things on your own, there is a sense of satisfaction, a level of pride. When people are given everything, you create in them a sense of need. Therefore they don’t develop their true human potential to provide, rather than to take. We want to be able to create a generation of givers, not takers. This is what we want for our people, to feel pride in themselves and their ability to grow, improve, as our former generations did. If we do not build, what will we leave for our children?” Ramadhar asked.